Tried Poly...GF Freaked Out and Ended Relationship

seeker2020

New member
Hello everyone,

I am a divorced male in my late-30s. I've been in a relationship for almost three years, and up to recently I shared a household with my GF...well, she is now my ex-GF:mad: We recently tried Poly and a week later she freaked out, had a meltdown, broke up with me and actually moved out of the house. Yes...it was that intense...

This is the story:

Before I met my GF I had a close friendship with a married woman who was 16 years older than me. She was an important presence in my life when I was going through a divorce, providing much emotional and spiritual support during a very dark period in my life.

This friend has been happily married for many years and has some sort of an open relationship with her husband. In fact, she is the one that first introduced me the concept of Poly. Before that I had never even heard the word to be honest.

Although there was attraction between us, we never pursued a romantic/physical level...mostly because of me. I just didn't feel comfortable being more intimate with a married woman - even though she clarified several times she had her husband's blessing. For a long time the whole thing felt weird to me. But we remained good friends with the occasional flirt here and there:D

Some years later I met my GF (also late 30s and also divorced). Although I told her about my friend, I did not share that my friend had introduced me to Poly. I was not Poly anyway, my GF was not Poly for sure, and I figured I did not need to burden her with this concept that I didn't even fully understand myself. My GF was also a very jealous person.

But something interesting started happening inside of me. As my relationship with my GF started growing and getting stronger, my feelings for my friend also started getting stronger - even though she lived in a different state. And for the first time in my life I experienced that it is quite possible to love more than one person at the same time. I felt no conflict in my heart, which led me to believe I was - perhaps - Poly oriented. I opened my heart to my GF and explained what was happening inside of me. I also provided her with affirmation about my love for her. My GF was never too crazy about my friendship with this woman, but she tolerated it because she knew it was an important relationship in my life.

Not too long ago my friend called me and stated she was traveling and had a one hour layover at a nearby airport. Because I had not seen her in a long time I asked my GF if I could go see her for a few mins. I also asked my GF for permission to kiss my friend - since I felt in my heart I would want to kiss her before she flew out of town.

My GF actually agreed to it. But I would have NOT proceeded had she disagreed with my request. When I came back home that evening from the airport, my GF was having a hard time with the whole thing. As we talked about the experience, However, we ended up having the most amazing sex ever. There was an incredible surge of sexual energy, and every night for a week we were more connected than ever before.

At the end of that week my GF went to see her fam out of town. The first few days when she was with her fam everything was fine. We were calling each other, texting, missing each other, etc. But one night she called with a melt down and broke up with me. She said she had shared the whole thing with her entire family. She was angry and had stated she had regretted the whole thing. She also said she would move out when she returned back home.

And she did. I am exceedingly heart broken now, confused, angry and a million other feelings. I am not hopeful that we will get back together. She has a lot of pressure from her family who is very conservative.

Is it normal for a partner to freak out like this when they try Poly in a relationship? How have you managed a partner's intense response to trying Poly for the first time?

Sorry for the long post. But I wanted to provide as many details as possible in order to facilitate the flow of thoughts.

Thanks,
 
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PolyinPractice

New member
It's weird, but at least she didn't overtly replace you with a new boyfriend, in your own home, and kick you out of it, while not actually telling you that was what she was doing.
 

bookbug

New member
Sadly, many people - especially those with a conservative family - find it intensely uncomfortable stepping outside of society's norms. I expect it was the family who told her to break it off with you. They probably filled her head with all sorts of crap like how deviant you are, and how she is being a door mat for allowing it. I imagine she was left with holes in her self-esteem, feeling stupid, and somehow dirty.

I was part of budding a triad - one promoted and encouraged by the wife. When she told her mom that I had moved in - just moved in, not anything about the triad - her mom filled her head with all sorts of horrible scenarios about how I would steal her husband, etc. The wife did a 180 almost over night. The mother's words became a self-fulfilling prophecy. There was no amount of reassurance from either the husband or I that could calm the wife. She proceeded to destroy the triad and her marriage in the process. She said so many hurtful things to her husband, like he had betrayed her, etc. It didn't matter that it had been her idea. Anyway her behavior caused irreparable damage.

To this day, nearly two years after they split up and three years after I left their house, she blames be me for their troubles, and tells everyone he left her for me. Funny thing that. He and I are best friends, but we live in separate towns and are lucky to get together once a month for dinner. Um right.....

I am sorry. If your ex gf's family exerts that type of control on her psyche, I doubt it is fixable unless she finds herself willing to do some hard thinking, which includes having the strength to reject her family's worldview. Most are not willing to do either. Basically, without realizing it, they gave her an ultimatum: be a good daughter and choose our worldview or be some kind of horrible person that we will reject and choose your bf.
 
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nycindie

Active member
Sounds like she felt it more in her best interest to kowtow to pressure from her family than to challenge her belief systems and come to her own conclusions. So sorry about that, but many people are unable or unwilling to deal with the discomfort that comes from examining and testing the influences in their lives.
 

seeker2020

New member
It's weird, but at least she didn't overtly replace you with a new boyfriend, in your own home, and kick you out of it, while not actually telling you that was what she was doing.

wow...if that's what happened to you...that sounds really horrible and painful. How can one survive that?

Sadly, many people - especially those with a conservative family - find it intensely uncomfortable stepping outside of society's norms. I expect it was the family who told her to break it off with you. They probably filled her head with all sorts of crap like how deviant you are, and how she is being a door mat for allowing it. I imagine she was left with holes in her self-esteem, feeling stupid, and somehow dirty.

I am sorry. If your ex gf's family exerts that type of control on her psyche, I doubt it is fixable unless she finds herself willing to do some hard thinking, which includes having the strength to reject her family's worldview. Most are not willing to do either. Basically, without realizing it, they gave her an ultimatum: be a good daughter and choose our worldview or be some kind of horrible person that we will reject and choose your bf.

Based on her account of how everything went down with her family, you are 100% correct. They essentially made her feel stupid and asked her to stop being my "door mat." The most ironic part of the whole story is that as conservative as her family is around relationships, there is a long history of infidelity in the family. Infidelity is part of her family's history at a significant scale.

Thanks for sharing your story by the way. That must have been very difficult for you.

Sounds like she felt it more in her best interest to kowtow to pressure from her family than to challenge her belief systems and come to her own conclusions. So sorry about that, but many people are unable or unwilling to deal with the discomfort that comes from examining and testing the influences in their lives.

I think so too. I had to go through a lot of self-examining before I even consider Poly more seriously. It was a difficult and painful process because I was raised very conservatively. Stepping outside the things I learned about relationships was not easy.

I never expected for my GF to jump into the Poly wagon overnight. In fact, I wasn't even asking permission for a large number of partners. All I ever asked was for her to accept that my relationship with my older friend was important to me. I could have lied and keep things to myself. Instead, I decided to be honest and share with her the things of my heart. And I was also open to the idea that my GF could try things of her own - although she always said she was not interested.

I am grieving pretty bad because we were really a good fit for each other in all other areas. Our views on politics, finances, culture, art, music, etc., aligned perfectly. It was a good relationship with the exception of this area, which is significant of course.
 

seeker2020

New member
Also, what kills me about the whole thing is that there are so many boundaries in my relationship with my older friend: we live in different states, she's happily married with children, our age difference, etc.

Not sure if my thinking is irrational, but the kind of Poly arrangement I was asking for was pretty mild and "safe" compared to other situations in which other partners live in the same town. Safe in the sense that there was no possibility for me to actually spend time with my friend on a regular basis (which could make my GF feel even more jealous and insecure), or that I would go crazy and want to run away with my friend and start a new life together.

In fact, I only considered Poly in the context of this relationship with my older friend. And I was OK if we never engaged sexually - although I appreciated the fact that my GF allowed us to kiss once. But I was willing to stop there to honor my GF's boundaries. Also, I never even asked my GF permission for "new" partners. In my heart I never felt the desire to go around intentionally looking for new partners. As it is, I barely have enough time in my life for one relationship (I work many long hours and am committed to my career deeply). So my Poly interest was in the context of a specific person that I already knew for years - as opposed to having a natural desire for multiple lovers, which seems to be the case for many Poly people.

Sorry for the rambling...i'm overwhelmed with grief :mad:
 
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bookbug

New member
I am sorry for your grief. I do understand. Keep talking as you need to.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
If her family is that extreme and has that much power over her, then there was probably never a chance you could continue to be with your (now ex) girlfriend and even loosen the lid on the poly jar. Unfortunately, you can't always see these things coming ahead of time. Maybe it's for the best in the long run. You've learned something about yourself, and life is hardly worth living without self-discovery.

I feel that you will have to suffer for awhile because of this breakup. I'm sorry, and I know you're losing a relationship that was great in every other way. Don't give up hope; there are many good women you could meet before your life is over.

People do sometimes completely bow to pressure from family and friends, although I have to say this is one of the worst cases I've ever heard of. It makes me sad.
 

seeker2020

New member
I am sorry for your grief. I do understand. Keep talking as you need to.

Thanks...your words felt good...

If her family is that extreme and has that much power over her, then there was probably never a chance you could continue to be with your (now ex) girlfriend and even loosen the lid on the poly jar. Unfortunately, you can't always see these things coming ahead of time. Maybe it's for the best in the long run. You've learned something about yourself, and life is hardly worth living without self-discovery.

I feel that you will have to suffer for awhile because of this breakup. I'm sorry, and I know you're losing a relationship that was great in every other way. Don't give up hope; there are many good women you could meet before your life is over.

People do sometimes completely bow to pressure from family and friends, although I have to say this is one of the worst cases I've ever heard of. It makes me sad.

Thanks so much for your thoughts, empathy and insights. It helped me a lot.

The influence from her family is full of ironies. She comes from a family of cheating men and women that put up with them - but who are otherwise miserable. So these are the individuals who pressured my now ex-GF into the decision she made:rolleyes: I console myself by thinking that at least I was the only person around her family who had enough integrity to express my needs without having to cheat. And what did I get? A break up over the phone - which I really found insulting and hurtful - and a "by the way, I am moving out tomorrow."

The more I think about our relationship, the more I realize that we got into a significant vicious cycle: she claimed I was not taking her needs into consideration (by not giving up my friend and the Poly idea). I, on the other hand, claimed that she was not taking my needs into consideration by asking me to give up something that was significant in my life. So we were pulling away from each other.

And this is where personal ethics come into play. How much of yourself can you sacrifice in order to please your partner? Not an easy question for sure. I guess my ex-GF decided she could not compromise her traditional values at all, whereas I was hoping we could make some compromises.

What I find interesting is that my ex-GF went through a period of serial monogamy after her divorce. This included she being the "other" woman by dating unavailable men, yet she holds on tightly to the principles of traditional monogamy. Considering the high rate of infidelity in her family plus her own life experiences with divorce and serial monogamy, I hoped she would be more open to consider relationships a bit differently, or to at least consider that the general ideas behind Poly are quite relevant in light of how human beings really behave.

I am trying to fill my mind with positive thoughts about the future.

I am also reading the book "Opening Up" by Tristan Taormino. I am actually finding a great deal of consolation by reading it. Hate to admit it, but I even cried at some parts (well, I am very vulnerable now but some of the information is very deep and emotive). It is a really good book. I also got "Sex at Dawn", but I haven't started it yet since I've been able to put the other one down:D
 
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KerryRen

New member
What I find interesting is that my ex-GF went through a period of serial monogamy after her divorce. This included she being the "other" woman by dating unavailable men, yet she holds on tightly to the principles of traditional monogamy. Considering the high rate of infidelity in her family plus her own life experiences with divorce and serial monogamy, I hoped she would be more open to consider relationships a bit differently, or to at least consider that the general ideas behind Poly are quite relevant in light of how human beings really behave.

Careful there, you might end up preaching the One True Poly -- and that never goes over well.

I think post-divorce a lot of people go through a high dating period. I know both my BF and my husband did. I've also observed it in others. Monogamy, serial monogamy, is the social norm; we may be permitted to date many simultaneously for a while, but the expectation is that we'll end up exclusive to one after trying out a few. Dating/marrying singularly, in succession, doesn't really prepare one for polyamory.

Neither does infidelity. If anything, I think it's liable to make one averse to the concept, to perceive it as "justifying cheating". The "other woman" in an affair is almost always viewed as trying to get the married partner for her own, or as using the married person for personal gain. Infidelity, unlike poly, usually involves lies and deception, which erodes trust and sets all relationships involved on shaky ground, IMHO.

If she and her family both have a history of infidelity, then it may be that they cast poly into that mold when influencing her.
 

seeker2020

New member
Careful there, you might end up preaching the One True Poly -- and that never goes over well.

I think post-divorce a lot of people go through a high dating period. I know both my BF and my husband did. I've also observed it in others. Monogamy, serial monogamy, is the social norm; we may be permitted to date many simultaneously for a while, but the expectation is that we'll end up exclusive to one after trying out a few. Dating/marrying singularly, in succession, doesn't really prepare one for polyamory.

Neither does infidelity. If anything, I think it's liable to make one averse to the concept, to perceive it as "justifying cheating". The "other woman" in an affair is almost always viewed as trying to get the married partner for her own, or as using the married person for personal gain. Infidelity, unlike poly, usually involves lies and deception, which erodes trust and sets all relationships involved on shaky ground, IMHO.

If she and her family both have a history of infidelity, then it may be that they cast poly into that mold when influencing her.

All good points. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You are correct, none of the things I mentioned prepare everybody for openness. If anything - as you said - it might be the opposite for some people.

I am still very angry and hurt, so there's defensiveness in my responses:eek:

Perhaps I was expecting my ex-GF to approach her experiences with relationships the same way I did with mine. After my divorce I also bounced around for a few years. After going through so many relationships, I started becoming more open about certain things. Maybe that was the beginning of my journey towards poly and openness.

Even so...it took me a long time to fully understand Poly to the point that I wanted to embrace it. So it is not fair for me to have expected my ex-GF to gain the same insights from her life experiences.

And I can totally understand that her family probably sees the idea of Poly as "justified cheating".... precisely because of their history with infidelity.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Re (from seeker2020):
"How much of yourself can you sacrifice in order to please your partner?"

Indeed a good question. Some (e.g. relationship anarchists) would argue, "Nothing." I personally give up some preferences (that aren't terribly important to me) in order to help keep peace in my poly household.

Re:
"Considering the high rate of infidelity in her family plus her own life experiences with divorce and serial monogamy, I hoped she would be more open to consider relationships a bit differently, or to at least consider that the general ideas behind poly are quite relevant in light of how human beings really behave."

Perhaps if she read Sex at Dawn that would help. But it sounds to me like her family's mantra is just too rigid and strong. It even defies obvious reality without blinking an eye.

Sex at Dawn and Opening Up are both great books (in my opinion).

Re: poly = justified cheating ... only if you dismiss the factors of knowledge and consent. Otherwise, poly = justified non-monogamy. Subtle but important difference.
 

seeker2020

New member
Re (from seeker2020):


Indeed a good question. Some (e.g. relationship anarchists) would argue, "Nothing." I personally give up some preferences (that aren't terribly important to me) in order to help keep peace in my poly household.

Re:


Perhaps if she read Sex at Dawn that would help. But it sounds to me like her family's mantra is just too rigid and strong. It even defies obvious reality without blinking an eye.

Sex at Dawn and Opening Up are both great books (in my opinion).

Re: poly = justified cheating ... only if you dismiss the factors of knowledge and consent. Otherwise, poly = justified non-monogamy. Subtle but important difference.

I am currently reading both books. I wish I could have started reading Sex at Dawn first, as it has tons of scientific data explaining human sexual nature. The other book is very practical, which I love, but I can see it might be a bit too much for some individuals that may not have enough theoretical understanding of human development.

After going through these books I am realizing I made a fatal mistake. When my ex-GF agreed to giving Poly a try, I failed to realize she was doing it "just for me." I couldn't see it that way at the time, but if I were to do it again, I would do a better assessment of her intentions.

Another piece of important information I forgot is that when she broke up with me she stated she was secretly hoping I would not take her seriously when she agreed to giving Poly a try.

Lesson learned: make a deep assessment of your partner's intensions. If there is slight hint of lack of authenticity, better not give Poly a try and/or wait until later.

However, as things turned out, I doubt she would ever be at a place of openness - unless she is willing to do the hard work of self-deferientating from her traditional family values. This situation with her family really opened my eyes to a reality I was not fully aware of....

Also, thanks for reminding me about the differences of poly and cheating. I certainly did not cheat, but her emotional reaction was quite strong...almost as if I had cheated or deceived her in the worst possible way. I suspect her family's reaction was similar...
 

bookbug

New member
I have a very difficult time with people who tell me one thing and expect me to read their minds - and understand that their words are a lie.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Re (from seeker2020):
"After going through these books I am realizing I made a fatal mistake. When my ex-girlfriend agreed to giving poly a try, I failed to realize she was doing it 'just for me.'"

Aww, but even selfless people are selfish in a way. They do good for others because it makes them feel good to be doing good for others.

And besides, her reasons for professing consent were decided by her, and as such are her responsibility. You aren't a mind-reader and it wasn't your mistake; it was hers. I'm not trying to diss her, I'm just saying that as a grown-up she gets to shoulder the blame for her own failures. It's not your job.

Re:
"Another piece of important information I forgot is that when she broke up with me she stated she was secretly hoping I would not take her seriously when she agreed to giving poly a try."

Whoa ... in other words, she lied, and wanted you to do whatever mind-reading was necessary to detect her lie.

Honestly, your job in a conversation is to believe (x) when the other person tells you (x). It's not nice to suspect that the other person might be lying (unless they have a history of lying, which speaks for itself). The onus is on the other person to tell you the truth, so that your trust in them will be vindicated. If they're not willing to live by that simple code of honor, then they're actually not someone you want to have in your life. Mind you, you can still love someone without having them in your life.

I am thinking that she was raised by a family that doesn't understand the concept of truth. In their world, (x) can mean (not-x), and (poly) can thus mean (cheating). The fact that they're guilty of non-monogamy seems to make them want to make up for it by attacking non-monogamy extra hard. They don't want to attack themselves, but you? You aren't one of *them.* That means it's open season on you. You're their scapegoat. You're the effigy that represents non-monogamy to them. They can burn you without hurting themselves. Somewhere in the depths of their collective subconscious I think that's what's going on.

I apologize for being overly harsh. Couldn't think of any better way to tell you that *this is not your fault.*

Hang in there, and don't let any bitterness from this ordeal override your future will to trust people who will be more worthy of your trust.

Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 

seeker2020

New member
I have a very difficult time with people who tell me one thing and expect me to read their minds - and understand that their words are a lie.

Exactly. That part of the whole thing affected me...because the expectation was that I was supposed to miraculously read her mind. Oh well...
 

comoelmar

New member
I agree with all the posts. For me, opening up for the first time was incredibly high drama with lots of freak outs. Ugh. I would not assume her feelings won't change again.
 

YouAreHere

Well-known member
I am realizing I made a fatal mistake. When my ex-GF agreed to giving Poly a try, I failed to realize she was doing it "just for me." I couldn't see it that way at the time, but if I were to do it again, I would do a better assessment of her intentions.

Another piece of important information I forgot is that when she broke up with me she stated she was secretly hoping I would not take her seriously when she agreed to giving Poly a try.

With respect to your first paragraph, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with trying something out "just for you." It may mean that you're the trigger for something that wouldn't have normally come up (such as in my case, I think). I doubt I'd be in a poly relationship if Chops hadn't identified as such a few months before we got together. To be honest, I'd have no interest in a poly relationship if it weren't with someone I had a really close connection with - it's a lot of work and negotiation (for me) for someone I don't really know. Does this mean I'm doing it just for him? Sure. But I'm also not martyring myself. I made the choice, honestly, and I'm trying to work through my shit rather than change him. I love him for who he is; I'm not interested in making him someone he's not.

With respect to your second paragraph... yeah, agreeing to something in the hopes that you can turn the other person away from it just demonstrates a lack of respect for the person you purport to love. It's not you she loved if she tried to change you into the image of the person she wanted you to be.

I'm sorry you're going through this, but if her intention was to try to change you, I hope you feel somewhat better that it happened now. Hang in there...
 

seeker2020

New member
[/QUOTE]I apologize for being overly harsh. Couldn't think of any better way to tell you that *this is not your fault.*

Hang in there, and don't let any bitterness from this ordeal override your future will to trust people who will be more worthy of your trust.

Sincerely,
Kevin T.[/QUOTE]

Thanks for your Radical Honesty...and I did not receive it as overly harsh. Actually, I appreciated your support and care through your words. Your analysis for my ex-GF's lack of of responsibility as well as her family dynamics was quite insightful.

Does this mean I'm doing it just for him? Sure. But I'm also not martyring myself. I made the choice, honestly, and I'm trying to work through my shit rather than change him. I love him for who he is; I'm not interested in making him someone he's not.

With respect to your second paragraph... yeah, agreeing to something in the hopes that you can turn the other person away from it just demonstrates a lack of respect for the person you purport to love. It's not you she loved if she tried to change you into the image of the person she wanted you to be.

I'm sorry you're going through this, but if her intention was to try to change you, I hope you feel somewhat better that it happened now. Hang in there...

Thanks for sharing your insights - especially the part about martyrdom.

For instance, my ex-GF also stated something to the effect of, "you should have known that I agreed to it as a last ditch effort to save the relationship."

The more I think about the whole thing the more feelings arise within me. I am trying to own my shit and take responsibility for my side of things. But my initial wanting to take the ENTIRE responsibility really affected me and made my grieving process really difficult.
 

bookbug

New member
The more I think about the whole thing the more feelings arise within me. I am trying to own my shit and take responsibility for my side of things. But my initial wanting to take the ENTIRE responsibility really affected me and made my grieving process really difficult.

This statement brought home to me again the dynamics in my own failed triad. I tried very hard to go back and analyze everything to see if I'd missed something that could have avoided all the pain and grief. In other words, I too, tried to take full responsibility (as did the wife's husband - the Philosopher mentioned in my signature). But analysis after analysis revealed that my primary mistake was in believing the wife as she laid out what a wonderful life we would have as three. There was no way I could have predicted she would do a complete 180. No hint. No clue.

Later when called on it. Instead of saying something like: I thought I could do it, but I can't, I'm sorry; she instead would say things like, you took that seriously? I was just playing around, or I was drunk. Riiight. She encouraged our triad for weeks, and I can attest to the fact that she was not drunk for weeks on end. In other words, she took no responsibility whatsoever.
 
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